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Sunday, 14 October 2018

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green. (Mindscape Reviews #6)






I have been awaiting to read Hank Green’s debut novel for more months than I will admit. And, when it was finally released, I read it in one go. Not because it was Hank Green & I love him. Not because I wanted to get ahead of the spoilers. But, just because, I COULDN’T find a way to stop reading this absolutely remarkable & intriguing story. You just cannot stop.






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Introduction:
I am going to do my best to review this book without giving away the main parts or any spoilers. So, first of all, Hank Green, along with John Green are vloggers at Nerdfighters. They are both awesome. I was already a John Green fan because he writes amazingly! Now, I am also Hank’s.

This novel is a young-adult version of a modern sci-fi genre. The main character is April May, who stumbles across a huge piece of art, which she describes as a transformer wearing a suit of samurai armour. She walks by it because such things are always there in New York City. But, then she realizes how cool it actually is. She calls up her Youtuber friend, Andy Skampt. Together, they film a video with the sculpture who she names Carl. It begins as an almost trivial thing and only in a few hours becomes a world sensation. They get to know that the exact same statue has been mysteriously popped up in many many place all around the globe! And that’s just the beginning of everything strange!
The story revolves around April May & the Carls. Hank Green highlights how fame, money & social media can impact a young girl’s life & lead to some global changes. We get to see April change from a normal graphic designer working a normal job to becoming an internet sensation.

Characters:
April May! I can go on & on about April May. (I assume there would be a movie of this & it would be amazing if someone like Emma Watson plays the role of April May!) April starts with being that girl-next-door who works at a start-up & works long hours. She is a graphic designer, which makes her an artist, in her opinion. She looked at Carls like they were a piece of art. She looked at normal every-day things like they were art. I really liked that about her.
She’s bisexual which is another thing I loved. Hank Green has tried to focus slightly but brilliantly in support of the LGBTQ community by portraying her as bi. You’ll know that part when you get to it in the book.
As the story progresses, you understand how satisfying it would have been to create an incredibly flawed protagonist. She will do exactly what you don't want her to do & end up in trouble. That's how the story goes on though, so you will love her for being unapologetically herself. While she does all kinds of wrong, you will also realise she is so incredibly optimistic so much so that she believes in humanity. She grows so much throughout the story, it's amazing!

Andy Skampt is the other 50% contributor of the viral Carl video. He is a nerdy vlogger with a lot of perspectives about everything. He is the calm in the middle of the chaos & knows perfectly well how to calm the ones around him.

Miranda Beckwith is a materials-science grad student. She is the reason April understood what the Carls really were! If you are not interested, even after reading this, there's something wrong with you!
So, she is the key 'sci' to the 'fi' of April!

Some other characters are Maya, who is April's girlfriend. She also becomes vital to solving something that the whole world is solving pertaining to the mystery of Carls. But, of course, she is way better at it.
Then, there's Robin, who is April's assistant. So, yes, she becomes that important. Who knows, maybe even the President of United States visits her with relation to the Carls, their mystery & the solution.

Overall Thoughts:
For a debut novel, Hank Green has done a fantastic job. Having to think of the story line after doing in-depth research about the scientific side & also stressing on the fame & social media addiction while slightly supporting for LGBTQ & doing all this with stressing on humanity & optimism & all the time keeping it so incredibly interesting was pure writing talent! To put up so many perspectives & areas of importance in one novel was quite commendable.
Apart from the underlying meanings that we get from 'An Absolutely Remarkable Thing', it leaves us with an intriguing end wanting to come back & read it again & wanting for more. I might be biased because I love the Greens, but honestly, every chapter has so many ups & downs that it is impossible to not continue. After the end of every chapter, you'll say, "One more", until you read it entirely at one go! So, go ahead & start reading! I have given it a 4/5 stars on Goodreads.



Typical April May lines:
Is that her or are we all really the same?

“It’s just that there are a lot of people doing a lot of amazing things, so eventually you get a little jaded.”

“The trick to looking cool is not caring whether you look cool. So, the moment you achieve perfect coolness is simultaneously the moment that you actually, completely don’t care.”

“They tell you that power corrupts… They never tell you how quickly!”

“Knowing something is a bad idea does not always decrease the odds that you will do it.”

“Once life gets a certain amount of weird, more weird just doesn’t really matter.”

“I was exhausted both physically and emotionally. My life had been turned inside out and upside down and then blended, spiced, spliced and rebranded.”

“I hadn’t been called on my bullshit in a while. It was unpleasant but also a little refreshing.”

“Deep down, you dislike yourself enough that you cannot imagine anyone worthwhile actually wanting to be with you.”

Until Next time,



Saturday, 8 September 2018

Udaipur Journals, Part 2!


Hello Readers & Wanderlust souls! In this post, I'm going to cover my Day 2 shenanigans in the beautiful city of Udaipur! There are also some places that you must visit which I have not covered, but you might want to! So, here we go again!
On Day 2, I visited Ahar Cenotaphs, Jagdish temple, Lake Pichola & Dudh Talai lake.

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~~ Ahar Cenotaphs ~~
          First stop was at Ahar Cenotaphs for the day. I had seen a lot of photos on Pinterest & Instagram about this place. It's a bit out of the city & attracts fewer people than other places. It is basically a royal graveyard. If the photos had not convinced me to go there, this fact sure as hell did! There are about 250 cenotaphs of the Maharajas of Mewar built over 350 years. When I went, there were few people there & I was glad. This is kind of what the place looks like:




Another highlight of the trip!



The place is not that well maintained as you can notice. Only the one cenotaph which is of Maharaja Sangram Singh is kept really well. It attracts the most tourists to have a beautiful and mystique photo shoot! I gave it a shot & was very pleased with myself!
Here are some more places from the place-





Some Useful Info:
Timings: There isn't any specific timing to visit the Cenotaphs, but to visit Ahar Museum, you can go from 10 AM to 4.30 PM
How far away: 30 minutes away from the Old City

~~ Jagdish Temple ~~

         I had walked around Jagdish temple numerous times as it was in close vicinity to my hotel. Only this time, I went inside to give a proper visit. There was aarti going on when I went. The idols are beautifully decorated & prayed to. The architecture of the temple is beautifully detailed. There is no limit of the number of photos you can click! Here are some of the good ones.







If you go towards the right lane from Jagdish temple, there are some shops. I did all my shopping from a little shop there. I don’t exactly remember the name, but the entire lane is pretty good. You can buy jewellery, leather bags, leather bound diaries! It’s a perfect little street to buy your souvenirs.
Some Useful Info:
Timings: 5 AM to 2.30 PM & 4 PM to 10 PM
How far away: 5 minutes away from the Old City

~~ Lake Pichola & Dudh Talai Lake ~~

          I hated that I couldn't go to Lake Pichola the day before, so I decided to go on Day 2 as I was already a bit ahead of schedule. It's not ideal to go to Lake Pichola in the morning or afternoon hours. So, as I mentioned in the earlier post, just go to for boating from City Palace itself. Here are a few photos of Lake Pichola.




Dudh Talai Lake or Pond is truly beautiful. Here are a few photos!



Some Useful Info:
Timings: Boating timings at Lake Pichola, 9 AM to 6 PM
How far away: 5 minutes away from Old City
Rates: Boat rides till 3 PM, Rs. 400 || Boat rides after 3 PM / sunset boat rides, Rs. 700

I could cover only these 3 places plus a shopping spree that day as I had to catch my flight. There were few other places that you can visit!

~~ Bagore ki Haveli ~~

Bagore ki Haveli is a very famous tourist stop in Udaipur. It is known for its cultural shows, folk dances & the like. It isn’t exactly my cup of tea, so I skipped it. But, if you like local entertainment, then you should visit these shows.

Some Useful Info:
Timings: 9.30 AM to 5.30 PM || Cultural show is from 7PM to 8PM.
How far away: 10 minutes away from Old City
Rates: Entry charges are Rs. 60 plus camera charges.

~~ Mansapurna Karni Mata Ropeway ~~

The entrance to Karni Mata temple is at the foot of the Dudh Talai lake. There’s a ropeway up to the temple. It is the topmost point from where you can view the entire city, quite like Monsoon Palace. It is also a good sunset point.

Some Useful Info:
Timings: 9 AM to 7 PM
How far away: 10 minutes away from Old City
Rates: For ropeway, Rs. 100
~~ Saheliyo ki Bari ~~

Saheliyon ki bari is a major garden in Udaipur. Built by Rana Sangram Singh, the place is a beautiful spot for photography with gardens, fountains & beautiful architecture. For me, the place did not have an x factor, which is why I didn’t go there.

Some Useful Info:
Timings: 9 AM to 7 PM
How far away: 15 minutes away from Old City
Rates: Rs. 5

~~ Other Places ~~

Okay, so the more I am writing about the places I did not visit, the more I am feeling that I should have. So, let me briefly tell you about some more places.
As Udaipur is known as the City of Lakes, you can also visit Badi lake.  Then, you can go to Ambrai Ghat as well. If you must fulfil the true tourist satisfaction, then you should visit the ‘I Love Udaipur’ Sign which is situated near Lake Pichola. There is also the quite famous Kumbhalgarh Fort, which is a 2.5 hours drive from Old City.

~~ Restaurants to check out ~~

I had done some research on restaurants as well. Although, of course, I couldn’t go to all the places.
For authentic Rajasthani food, you can check out Millets of Mewar, Palki Khana.
For snacks or continental food, you can check out Café Grasswood, Jheel’s Ginger Coffee Bar, Fresh Food Café.

I hope you have enjoyed my tour of Udaipur. Hope you found some useful stuff if you are planning a trip to Udaipur yourself! Keep travelling!!

Until next time,

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Udaipur Journals, Part 1 || Celebrating 4th Blogoversary!



Hello Readers!! Today marks the 4th BLOGOVERSARY of MINDSCAPE IN WORDS!! With few postings in a few months & few breaks now & then, somehow, I have successfully completed 4 years of blogging!! And, what's better to celebrate a blogoversary if not with a travel post!? So, here goes my Udaipur trip from my diary to my blog! Hope you enjoy the tour!

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I recently had the chance to go to Udaipur for 2 to 3 days’ visit. The moment it was decided that the destination will be Udaipur, I spent a lot of time planning, scheduling & shortlisting places to visit. Of course, a beautiful city like Udaipur deserves much more than 3 days! In case you are planning to visit just Udaipur, plan a trip for at least 5 days! You can never get bored of this city, because you can find beauty & grace in every nook & corner; literally.

On the first day, I covered 3 places; the City Palace, Monsoon Palace (Sajjangarh Fort) & Fateh Sagar lake. Shall we begin?

~~ City Palace ~~

Entrance to the City Palace! 

View on the Left side after entering.

City Palace is in the centre of the Old City in Udaipur. I entered from the Tripoliya Gate which is at the northern side if you check it on Google Maps. It is closer from Jagdish temple as well. It takes about 2 hours to explore the whole place. I entered & roamed around for a bit. It was a huge place with tall towers & big structures. After entering, on the immediate left, there is a view of the city. As the palace is located a bit above the ground, the view looks really nice. There is a garden & fountains in the middle of the stretch for people to take photos. I roamed around some more. There’s a fine restaurant named Palki Khana within the palace which is quite famous. You can try that out as well. I took some rest then headed towards the museum tour! It is at the end of the palace, on the right. 







About the museum, you should make up your mind before starting the tour because it takes a lot of time to finish it. There are a lot of hallways, stairs going upwards & downwards & quite a lot of reading about the history & time spent on photography. If you hire a guide (which isn't really necessary) then it may not take too much time as they tell everything & then hurry you up. Also, there isn't an exit midway. You need to go through the entire maze up until you finish the tour. So, if you are with kids or you’re not fit or something of the kind, then you need to re-think about it. Because it sure as hell will end up with you being tired & exhausted.
With that being said, the museum tour is wonderful. There are a lot of beautiful views, detailed architectural works & splendid historical artefacts with stories around it. There is always that feeling you get of how it must have been back then, the thought about the lives of these great kings & queens & warriors, the thought of the whole grandeur & richness of the place. And you get to be where history was created & imagine thinking all these things! It’s really something I feel grateful about.
The things I loved about the tour are in those beautiful photos taken inside the museum! Do check them out on your visit. I will give City Palace a 3.5/5 stars.

Once the museum tour ends, you can go for boating from City Palace itself. This is a better option, because the tours from the palace halt at the Jagmandir Island unlike other private boating tours. And, it is a MUST to go to the Jagmandir Island. Unfortunately, I was way too tired to keep going. So, I decided to skip boating in Lake Pichola & consequentially a visit to Jagmandir Island.
If you are staying for more days, you can book one whole day to cover these 4 places:
Jagdish temple, City Palace, Lake Pichola & Jagmandir Island.

Some Useful Info:
Timings: For City Palace, 7 AM to 11 PM || For City Palace Museum, 9.30 AM to 5.30 PM
How far away: In the Old City
Rates: For City Palace, Rs. 50 || For City Palace Museum, Rs. 250


~~ Monsoon Palace / Sajjangarh Fort ~~
After the exhausting yet amazing tour of City Palace, I went back at the hotel I was staying to freshen up. Soon, I left for Monsoon Palace, which is also known as Sajjangarh Fort. It is located a little bit outside the city. You can go here by a local rickshaw which will drop you at the foot of the fort. From there, you can get on-board with their taxis which take you to the top. The frequency is about 10 minutes & as per the crowd. Personal cars & 2 wheelers are also allowed to the top after paying some charges. Also, another important thing, cameras are not allowed! I know, right? I was totally bummed out when I knew that. I had to take some photos from my phone, which, to be honest, aren't that great. Why would cameras not be allowed from a point that has the view of the entire city!?? Have a look at the LQ photos though-

Climb up to the Sajjangarh Fort

View from the top!

Finally got a decent photo of myself!!

So, once you reach the top, there is an AMAZING VIEW of the entire city! Well, that’s always a given. You may or may not like some local sightseeing places, but the ones at the top with the view are ALWAYS the ones you can count on. After all, they are worth the climb!
You can see the rich white city below with the 2 gorgeous lakes with some palaces within them & it's all just so breath-taking. You can stay here for a beautiful sunset or a sunrise & you won't be disappointed. An hour here will feel like a minute & you will still have time to wonder about all the beauty that reflects from the city onto you. I'll give Monsoon palace 4.5/5 stars.

Some Useful info:
Timings: 9.30 AM to 7 PM
How far away: 20 minutes away from Old City
Rates: Entry fee Rs. 3 || Additional for taxi


~~ Fateh Sagar Lake ~~
          I wanted to stay at the Monsoon Palace to watch the sunset, but that was hours away, so I decided to go to the next & last place for the day; Fateh Sagar lake. As I couldn't go at Lake Pichola, I made it a point to not miss out on Fateh Sagar lake. And, let me tell this to you folks right now. No matter how sunny or cloudy or cold it is, no matter how tired or exhausted you are, NO MATTER WHAT, do not miss this place! Fateh Sagar lake was the highlight of my trip. I stepped down at the Fateh Sagar Pal, which is an 800 meters long straight walk by the lake. Quite like Mumbai's Marine Drive. I think these photos will justify my words:

Start of the Fateh Sagar Pal.



That's what I'm talking about!!

I walked all the way till the end & again all the way back. To tell you the truth, it became an impromptu photo walk! There I was, facing the lake, walking upwards & sideways & criss-crossing with my tripod & the camera on top of it! I didn't for once stop to think about 'what people might think'. I didn't for once worry about my work or my friends or their lives. Somehow all the daily drama that I worried about seemed trivial & i was glad for it. That place was for me as I was for it. It had this strong magnetic attraction that left me in awe. I sat for a while taking in the beauty of the place.
Sound of water dancing gracefully..
Colour of the sun painting the sky poetically..
Freeness of the wind musing over & above..
I was truly at peace in this serenity..

If you are in Udaipur, drop your bags & go visit the magical Fateh Sagar lake. I'd surely give it 5/5 stars.
I clicked a lot of amazing photos. Here are a few!





Some Useful info:
Timing for boating: 8 AM to 6 PM
How far away: 10 minutes away from Old City.

I promise to come back soon & tell you guys all about an exciting Day 2 in Udaipur! Do let me know how you liked this one in the comments below!
Until next time,


Sunday, 15 July 2018

Of Loneliness & Independence. (Diary Logs #18)






Hi Readers!! Hope you are having a great weekend! I mean, that World Cup final blew my mind!!
So, here I am, writing about something that's totally opposite of team spirit & often touched upon topic of my writing! 
Why don't you go ahead & read it!?







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Source

She sat in the balcony of her small apartment on a Saturday evening with tea in her hand & a rather plain view from the 2nd floor. She had an array of options before her. She could read a book which she had been attempting to finish for 7 months. She could binge watch some hyped Netflix show & pretend to understand the sci-fi aspects in it. She could browse Pinterest & Instagram only to watch travel photos from Netherlands, photos captioned #FriendshipGoals or another celebrity breakup. She could browse social media & catch up on who's who of people she doesn't really care about. So, where were the people she cared about? Did these people even exist? She might care about a million, but she was sure no one cared about her. Just as sure as she was that there was no truth behind those #FriendshipGoals photos because nothing really lasts, does it? People come, people go. There were more ex-people in her life than now-people. That is the way of life. At any stage, they are never friends; they are contract friends dressed up as classmates, flatmates, cousins or colleagues. Once that phase is done, so is the relationship & so are the "goals". She sat there with her thoughts. She could think about how different it was a few months earlier, or even a few weeks earlier. You get a degree, you get a job, you move out of your parents' home to a new city. You get what you always wanted. She was independent, and yet she was lonely in those hours of a Saturday night even with a lot of options in front of her.

          She thought about the time she could call up her best friend & she would just know that the call would go on for hours. And today was the day when she was so sure that they won't even meet again, let alone have those heartfelt conversations. No matter how strong their friendship goals were, they ended as college ended.
          She thought about all her colleagues at the place she interned before. That was the time when they didn't miss even a single Friday night to go out partying. Now that, she got another job, they still go, without fail. Also, without giving a second thought to invite her. No matter how much fun those Fridays with colleagues were, they ended as her internship ended.
          She thought about the times when she was inseparable from her cousin brothers. Every time she was angry at her parents, she knew she could just go over at her cousin's place & they would make her laugh until she forgot why she was angry. But then, they grew up, got jobs & moved to US. No matter how strong their bond was, it ended as their childhood ended.

She grew up knowing that people are temporary. People come, people go. Maybe that's why she never fought hard to make someone stay in her life. She was one woman standing & she enjoyed the view with no one in sight. At that moment, she had become so strong that nothing would make her cry & nothing would take her guard down. She had to be a warrior, all the time, with no breaks.

Until next time,

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Are You Scared of Being Left Alone with Your Thoughts? (Diary Logs #17)







Hello Readers! Hope you liked the love story I wrote last week. I am in the process of writing another one. But, that one's going to take some time. So, stay tuned for the big one!
This is another diary logs kind of a post inspired by reality of feelings. So, for a change, it's not fiction. Keeping it real. Hope it changes your outlook & makes you think.





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Dear Diary,
          This weekend I went on a trip to Lonavla with my family. My aunt has a family friend who has a bungalow there. No words can describe how amazing & perfect that bungalow is. We were 7 of us there. The place has a lot of things to keep everyone entertained. It has a huge hall with 3 big bedrooms. All the interiors are so well picked out that everything looks fancy while also has a touch of vintage with modern architecture. There's an amazing sit-out place like a balcony. We can see an amazing view from there. It's always cold & to our luck also foggy which creates perfect atmosphere. The basement is converted to a gaming arena with Table Tennis, Carom & board games. There's also a small terrace above from where the view is better than that at any other place in Lonavla.
There's a care-taker who is also the chef so there's nothing that we need to do, but relax. Sounds peaceful, doesn't it? The only thing is that there is barely any cell reception up there. And there's no wi-fi. So, you can do everything & anything which doesn't involve browsing through your mobile or laptop.

In the deadly silence of this beautiful place, if you go alone, what will you do?
How long will you be able to ponder over the wonder of the nature, mountains & the superb weather?
How long will you read or cook or do gardening or photography?
It will all last only until you finally come face to face with yourself with no more escape routes left. What will you do then? Will you be ready to face your fears? Will you be ready to give a thought to your thoughts?

After a certain amount of time, they will keep cropping up. Your mind will ask you why are you living the way you do. Your body will ask you why you treat it the way you do. Your past will crawl to remind you of your regrets & bad choices. Your future will give you nothing but one big question mark. Your anxiety will ask you if it's a good time to strike again. Your hands will go to the phone to check for any messages, but there won't be any. Your heart will ask you if you feel it even exists. You will be left alone with nothing but your thoughts. The question is will you be scared of being left alone with your thoughts? And if the answer is yes, you know that you need to face that fear. 



"Let's toughen up & face our fears.
Let's stop with the many escape mechanisms we use every day, every minute! 
Let's not be afraid of being left alone with our thoughts. 
Instead, let those thoughts come to sort everything out. And also maybe, to inspire!"


Until next time,

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